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Almost half of all house fires start in the kitchen

Published: 1st August 2006

The NSW Fire Brigades urges all NSW families to remain alert of possible fire dangers in the kitchen.

NSWFB Commissioner Greg Mullins said that 47% of all home fires in the last year had started in the kitchen, and that families should take steps to avoid becoming another house fire statistic.

"Many people aren’t aware how dangerous the kitchen can be. Leaving pots to boil dry, letting oil overheat and catch fire, and forgetting about food in the oven can result in a fire in the home with disastrous consequences," Commissioner Mullins said.

During 2005/2006 the NSWFB attended 4,653 home fires with 2,174 starting in the kitchen. Half of these kitchen fires, or 1,090, resulted from cooking being left unattended. Other factors included mechanical failure and appliances being accidentally turned on or not switched off.

"Nobody can afford to be complacent when cooking. Never leave stoves, ovens or other cooking appliances unattended while they are in use," he said.

Commissioner Mullins offered the following advice to householders when cooking:

  • Install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket at least one metre from the stove and between the stove and the nearest exit;
  • Keep children away from hotplates and ovens while they are on, and consider installing a stove guard;
  • Never throw water on burning oil. Water can cause the fire to spread very rapidly and cause horrific burns
  • If cooking oil catches fire, turn off the hot plate and slide the lid over the pan or use a fire blanket to smother the fire.
  • Never carry pans of hot or burning oil through the house as this can lead to serious injuries. Allow the oil to cool before removing the lid as the oil may reignite.
  • Clean grillers after each use and clean range hood filters and cooking appliances regularly;
  • Ensure all electrical appliances and leads are in good working order;
  • Never overload power points with more than one double adaptor;
  • If a kitchen fire occurs and you aren’t confident you can put it out, switch off the appliance, leave, and call the NSW Fire Brigades on Triple Zero (000) from a safe phone
  • Install smoke alarms in the home, preferably in living areas rather than the kitchen. Photoelectric alarms are less prone to false alarms caused by cooking fumes;
  • Develop a home escape plan and rehearse it with the family and other residents in the home.

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